[This post is for those of you who are Chairs, wealth advisors, therapists, facilitators…]
Advisors: don’t stand by as clients/members run on the rocks of dysfunction. If they already have, don’t assume that nothing can be done to restore and rehabilitate a perfectly viable business from the wreckage of torn trust.
The video interview below with the CEO of a thriving family business is a case study in applying Fixing Fractures: Restoring Shattered Relationships in Business and in Life to a fragmenting culture.
Companies are high-risk fracture zones.
Recipe: gather a bunch of different people bent on accomplishing a mission, throw them together into a pressure cooker and turn up the heat. And voila! Issues become Problems become Feuds become Vendettas. Fractures between key contributors who must collaborate to achieve profit for the sake of the business create significant barriers. How can a company work with high-ranking people clashing at cross purposes?
Have you experienced this? Watched promising ventures run afoul because of fragmenting ‘teams’?
There probably aren’t fist fights. More likely its undermining, jabs at meetings, faint support, disparaging comments about peers that demonstrate an iceberg of misalignment.
The players don’t set out for that. They’re just trying to do their jobs, as they see them. But because difference is natural, it puts them on a collision course with workmates. Not because they’re bloody minded, but because they care.
Now – throw in the added dimension of family ties, and things become really charged.
Some of these are solvable through ‘reorganization’, or ‘restructuring’. But exiting long-term, indispensable haulers is not always a smart option, and not available in many family companies. CEOs don’t always know there’s another way: The Resolution path.
Here’s a recent enquiry from a long-term Chair colleague:
I have a friend who is COO of a successful winery. The family who runs it is in conflict around succession and family dynamics. They have retained someone to help with the succession issues but their focus is not on the underlying family issues. Do you have…
Well, this crew is at least facing the issues. Advisors watch in agony as they see what most member/client leaders do…
Avoid. Duck. Hope it will go away.
They can’t. It won’t. And it doesn’t.
Fixing Fractures in an advisory practice
Tuning into a similar dynamic drove Bruce Harbinson, senior TEC Chair in the Toronto area to make contact.
My TEC member, Deb Coselman, is CEO of a thriving agribusiness. She has three other sisters engaged in the biz. The dynamics are intense and not always working out. The father, though ‘retired’, is a shadowy presence. They need to get this sorted out…can you help?
Well, yes, I could, and we did.
The view from my seat
The conduit was Peter Buchanan, already tied in with Bruce. I enrolled him to co-facilitate. We met Deb, President of King Cole Ducks, over the phone. She asked, “How would an engagement work?”
Having gained the sponsorship of the CEO (the most critical and important step of all!), the first step is to meet the players, separately, then together.
The visits with each one individually, are simple. After the usual introductions, and the “Who are you and what do you do?”, we go straight to the core, often cued by the CEO. “What’s the rhubarb between you and [another sister]? How did you come apart, as far as you know? What are the impacts of that division?”
Pretty quickly, we have an inventory of fractures. They range in intensity from little disputes to real game breakers.